The Links - 'Shopping Cow Funk'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

The band the Links recently released their new EP, ‘Shopping Cow Funk.’ The band is a reincarnation of itself since the group previously consisted of high school friends in 2011 and then disbanded and subsequently opened up shop once more with only one of the original members. After a handful of shows, the newly reformed band took to the studio to hammer out the new EP, a wild six track offering. (Seven, really, but we’ll get to that.)

The band introduces themselves with ‘Danny Boy Intro,’ a funky electronic beat based production followed by some amusing banter between the group. It’s a perfect little segway into the first meaningful number on the album, ‘Funk Song.’ True to name, the track is indeed funky. It’s a contemporary funk, though, one that’s sprinkled with half a dozen other modern influences. There’s a bit of a garage sound to it and it also toys with some alternative stylings. The concoction is particularly original, which is as refreshing as it is entertaining.

The musical prowess of the band is abundantly apparent from the get-go. They’re great musicians and the instrumentation is anything but lacking. ‘Funk Song’ does run a bit too long as a result of it, though, and it’s a five and a half minute song that probably could have been four. ‘Winter Horror’ is similar in length, but the song ventures into more intriguing territory than its predecessor.

‘When You Really’ is a dramatic departure in some ways from the previous content on the collection. It utilizes a funky riff in the backdrop of some excellent electronic instrumentation. ‘Metal Song’ is probably the most exciting track on the record, snapping in and out of hazy distortion and intricacy.

The band cites Radiohead as one of their influences. That couldn’t be more clear than on ‘Doesn’t Matter At All,’ a song that feels straight off the cutting room floor of a Thom Yorke project. It ends the EP on a rather strong note, making it a record that starts and ends at high points.

If you download the EP you get another bonus track, ‘Swimming Pools,’ a Kendrick Lamar cover. It’s radically different than the content on ‘Shopping Cow Funk,’ though it is quite good. Purchase the CD, you get even more goodies from the band in terms of extra tracks.

‘Shopping Cow Funk’ is a very nice little EP. The band should drop the Kendrick Lamar cover bonus track, though. A cover of a popular artist only bogs down what would otherwise be an entirely independent, original effort. Save that stuff for SoundCloud and YouTube. The core offering of the album is quite good. I’d say that the Links struggle with a similar syndrome to an early Bruce Springsteen. In his first records, he had difficulty turning down the intensity of his live act. As a result, the albums were a bit muddled and the songs turned into unnecessary jam sessions. It’s a very typical problem of a great live band getting in the studio and something gets lost, or rather, is missing in translation. The Links must be an amazing live band, because that’s exactly what this record tells me about them. They should tone everything down in the studio, however, to finesse a more fine-tuned sound, one that will ultimately be much more impactful. For the time being, though, this EP suits its purpose and it’s certainly worth a spin.

Check out the Links online: